Pilates rings are one of the most popular additions to a Pilates routine. They help strengthen muscles, improve flexibility, and provide a full body workout. They come in different sizes and shapes, so choosing the right size is important.
When buying a Pilates ring the following should be considered when making a choice: the size, material, resistance level and padding. Most beginners will find a 14-inch, plastic, Pilates ring with padded handles and medium resistance will be suitable.
Pilates is the practice of using a series of exercises and breathing techniques to improve flexibility, strength, and posture. It’s great exercise for both women and men, and is usually done without equipment.
When you start seeing results in your appearance, it’s typically the time to think about investing in a Pilates ring. Let’s explore what to consider when asking ‘how do I choose a Pilates ring’.
What is a Pilates Ring?
A Pilates ring is known by several names. The most used are: Magic Circle, fitness ring, fitness circle, exercise ring and Pilates circle.
They all share the same characteristics, they are a flexible, lightweight, ring, usually with a non-slip grip on either side and they can be used as a prop in a variety of workouts.
The compact design has made the ring a popular accessory in gyms and for home use, they tend to be low cost, easy to store, and very effective when used correctly.
In use, they can help stabilize your body, provide additional tension and they can be easily transported and stored. I’m beginning to see why they’ve been termed the Magic Circle!
They’re so versatile the Nintendo Switch has one as an accessory for a game called ‘Ring Fit Adventure’ which sees you running around completing fitness challenges using a specially designed ring.
What to look for when buying a Pilates ring
A Pilates ring is a fantastic addition to your home practice. They can help you reach your fitness goals by adding gentle resistance to your workouts.
If you attend a Pilates class, your instructor will likely have some you can try out. I’m sure they’ll give you product reviews about why they’ve purchased the brand they have in the studio and if you’ve not used on getting qualified instruction is a great way to not only learn how to use them, but also take them for a test drive before making a purchase.
Here are some aspects to keep in mind when investing in one:
As with most sports equipment, Pilates rings are available in different sizes. You’ll typically choose from between 12-inches and 15-inches in diameter. I’ve found 14-inch rings work for most people, the larger rings can be tricky to use in some moves, a 14-inch ring tends to work for everything.
It’s a good idea to try the different sizes out if possible, either at your local Pilates studio, or by purchasing different sizes from a store that allows returns. This will not only help you figure out which size gives you a comfortable workout, it will also allow you to test out the padded grips and resistance amount.
Originally, metal was used for the ring. The story goes that Joseph Pilates invented the ring out of flexible metal rings found around beer barrels. These days you’ll typically find they’re made from a flexible plastic instead.
Personally, I use plastic rings and so do my clients. They’re strong, resilient, provide an excellent amount of tension and really add to our core workouts. Most tend to be made of a flexible plastic core surrounded by a soft, rubberized, shell.
The other thing to consider is the weight. Steel circles will cause fatigue quicker and I would generally advise against a metal ring if you’re a beginner, after all they’re not used for weight training!
The point of adding a Pilates ring to your workout is to add additional tension and resistance to your routine. The level of resistance you want really depends on how strong you are.
If purchasing a metal circle you’ll find they come classified by the number of metal rings, or bands. The greater the number, the stronger the resistance. If you are a beginner, go for a light 2 band or medium 3 band.
For those who have already built up strength, a heavier 4 band circle would be best.
Plastic rings don’t come with a standard measurement, you might find some referencing the resistance as ‘the equivalent of x-bands’, where x references the metal band quantity equivalent. Often the sellers will state the resistance difficulty level, keep an eye out for light or moderate if you’re a beginner.
When looking at Pilates circles, you might notice a difference between them when it comes to padding. Originally, pads were only on the outside, allowing you to push the ring inwards.
Now you’ll usually see pads on both the outside and inside, not only do these provide a comfortable grip, they also make the circle a more versatile tool that can be used in additional ways.
The grips are especially useful at providing an increased level of comfort, it’s much easier and far more comfortable to squeeze a fitness ring between your legs if it has grips to stabalise it.
If purchasing from online shops, such as Amazon and eBay, don’t just check the product description and product details (the bits the manufacturers and sellers write) be sure to also check the customer reviews section before placing an order.
As these are relatively simple to manufacture, there are a huge number available at very low prices, leading to some low quality products that might provide a low level of comfort and weak resistance levels.
Check to make sure previous customers have been happy with the purchase, that it lived up to expectations in terms of resistance, quality and longevity.
How much should you spend on a Pilates ring?
As with most Pilates equipment you don’t need to spend a lot. A good quality ring will cost between $15 and $30 (£12 to £25). More expensive options are available, but they’re typically designed with instructors and studios in mind.
You can expect a good quality, reasonably priced, Pilates ring to be usable for many years of regular use.
There are a wide variety available on Amazon, some come with extras such as a travel bag or instructions on what moves can be done with them. Check out the selection here: https://geni.us/AmazonPilatesRings
Amazon is a good store to purchase from as they’re usually fine with accepting returns. This means you can try different sizes in the comfort of your own home and can generally return the one you’re not happy with. Always remember, it’s important to check customer reviews when purchasing on Amazon.
What muscles to Pilates rings target?
The Pilates ring isn’t designed to work one specific set of muscles, it’s intended as a very versatile tool that can be used in routines working either your upper or lower body.
You’ll notice this when shopping for one, some photos will show it being held in the hands and some show it between the legs.
Is a Pilates ring just for Pilates?
One of the reasons these have so many names is because they’ve gained wider adoption. They can be useful in yoga workouts, aerobics and, as mentioned at the start, there is even a computer game, Ring Fit Adventure, that uses one as the game controller.
Takeaway: Pilates Rings are a great investment
In conclusion, investing in a Pilates Ring is a great choice for those looking to add variety and challenge to their workout. They’re easy to use, affordable, and very quick to pack away and store.
I find they’re very useful if you’re a beginner or a season pro. It doesn’t matter what your fitness level, these fitness rings really are magic.